Friday, September 25, 2009

Israel Blocks Human Rights Groups

Even in time of war, allowances must be made to care for the personal needs of people on opposing sides.  Sadly that does not always allowed.

Physicians for Human Rights While the Israeli army's crossings into Gaza have gone into near-lockdown mode since Hamas wrested control of the coastal strip more than two years ago, Israeli human rights organizations have regularly stepped in to intervene, with some success.

That is, until last week. On Sunday, a group of the most active human rights groups here were informed that the government-run body that controls access to and from Gaza will no longer deal with them.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) sent an official letter on Sept. 13 to three human rights groups informing them that they would no longer be able to act on behalf of Palestinians with urgent requests to leave Gaza – generally for medical care, to visit a sick family member, or to attend a funeral. They must instead refer such requests to the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, in accordance with the Interim Agreement – the basis of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation established in 1995 under the Oslo peace process.

The letter notes that the "longstanding" policy of carrying out such appeals in conjunction with Palestinian authorities has been approved by Israel's High Court of Justice. But the organizations say it is part of the military's increasing resistance to working with human rights groups in the wake of the Gaza war.

The organizations include Gisha: the Legal Center for the Freedom of Movement, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, and HaMoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual. They say they have increasingly had their appeals ignored since the war in January. This latest step, the groups complain, takes away one of the few avenues of recourse available to desperate Palestinians.

"Gaza residents have no direct access to the [Israeli] military officials who decide their fates, and up until now they had a chance to have an advocate bring their case before the military and get some sense of due process," says Sari Bashi, the director of Gisha, based in Tel Aviv.

Ms. Bashi, a lawyer, says Gisha and other groups only pick up cases where Palestinians who applied for permits – which they are told to do through the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee – either had their applications rejected or were never given an answer.

"The new procedure means that Palestinians no longer have a right to have an advocate that they chose to help them, and everyone has a right to an advocate," Bashi says. [emphasis added]

Inserted from <Christian Science Monitor>

Whether or not people can receive medical care, visit sick family members, or attend funerals has nothing whatsoever to do with the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  To deprive people of these humanitarian needs is cruel.  However, I think the real reason is that allowing human rights groups advocate for people, whose requests Israel’s Palestinian Affairs Committee had rejected, put Israel in the position of granting reasonable requests or having the knowledge of their refusal to do so publically known.  The Netanyahu government wants to maintain cruelty in secret.  I find this hateful, and think The US should stand against this change.


Brother Tim said...

Israel is carrying out planned genocide. How the U.S. can allow this to continue, boggles my mind.

TomCat said...

Brother, I fully agree.